Apparently theres some kind of wall here
Trip Start Sep 30, 2005
82Trip End Sep 01, 2006
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flew at 11. 50 pm, which limits your sleeping options, especially with the kind of quality entertainment that singapore airlines had, who are a top airline, efficent, spacious, and even the foods not to bad. 4 hours to singapore, (people from singapore are called singaporean FACT). a couple of hours in singapore, where even the airport is almost too clean, too efficent! each urinal has that anti-bacterial stuff beside it, the water fountains are automatic. anyway, we then caught the 6 hour flight to china (it only takes 8 hours from london!).
yes, yes, yes, we're in bloody china, and i'm not sure i still belive it, from the airport we cruise in on a massive free way, american style, no rickshaws, bigger more expensive cars, the taxi driver talks to us in chineese, we doze, the traffic thickens as we approach the congested city centre
after as much sleep as we can manage, in our very swanky hotel (paid for before trip, so don't feel guilty), we have a power shower, maybe not by engish standards, but by indian trickle, cold, cheap and dank standards, we're in paradise. out we wonder, staight on to the subway, pretty easy and cheap, since there's only two lines, you just need to make sure you get on them going the right way. the lady at the couter wears plastic gloves, ah yeah and on the plane we were warned that we were being sprayed, for hygenic reasons. we traveled to the summer palace, which was pretty spectacular, and took a long walk around the lake. rather than describe it, it's best just to look at the pics. should be known, that of course the summer palace had to be rebuilt due to it being burned down by the anglo-french forces, imperial guilt haunts me everywhere we go. on the way back, we went out for some beijing duck, the portions are huge, you get skin, breast, and wings, and kate definitly had a bit (cheating vege). we finished the night off with political and social discussions about world affairs (and football) with a couple just in from moscow adam (ni) and steph (can). beers were 30p, so sod it.
beijing feels like a city on the move, there's building taking place everywhere, especially since it's getting ready for the olmypics in 2008. people selling fake merchadise everwhere. next morning (lunchtime) we walk the 5km to the temple of heaven. the main building is closed for renovation, a little dissapointing, but the rest of the park is very enjoyable, from the ming period, and this was where the emperor made his prayers and sacrficial offerings for a good harvest every year, i think kate really enjoyed the slauter house
later that night, we met our guide, a young lady from beijing, name ya(hoo)-june, this is how she teaches us to say it, simple white folks that we are. 12 people in the group, ausies, english, kiwis, americans, and indian. a few of us break off for a cheap market meal. what a place, sells everything, and they cook it there for you, and little men scurry about trying to sell (and suceeding) you beer. seahorse, beatles, snake, starfish, as well as all the normal stuff. we had a man following us to collect our cans for recycling, with a beiging olypic hat on, must get money for collecting it. we head off to a bar, where all our money saving exploits are blown away, by henious prices. we watch a chinese band, don't know most of there songs, apart from the noticable rendition of 'sex bomb'. we then walk into see some jamican band, who look good, but are playing ub40, i shout for jimmy cliff, 'we don't know that one, but we'll play something similar', followed by 'mysterious girl', by peter andre. when we thought it was going to hell, another request got us a lot of bob marley, and i brough the guy a beer, and all was happy.
early morning start, bus jouney, suspension, and good roads, comfy chairs, luxury
we finished the day with a chinese acrobat show, which was pretty similar to seeing the chinese circus. we were late to the meeting point by about 35mins, due not being able to catch a taxi, some people won't take you, we're not sure why, plus it was friday night rush hour. we missed the bus, but made it to the show by taxi. phew. a couple of us then went out to a small cheap bar (vodka and red bull, only 80p, kate was very happy), lots of loud house music, with a bunch of germans bouncing up and down and singing german songs along with it. home by 1.
today we visited the mamoth forbidden city, and tain'anmen square, but the weather was freezing and wet, which made the day a little tougher. our first rain on this trip. the place defies belief, in terms of size, but was also rammed, since its saturday. imagine what it's like in the summer. when your in tian'anmen square, you can't help but see those images of 1989, with the tank, and it gives you some perspective. our guide said when that happened, she was a little girl, and they were all told to lock themselves in their houses for two weks, and she never even knew it happened until she started talking to foreign tourists as an adult. its hard to find out too much detail here about the political reasons behind it, i'm not sure if it's caus they don't want to tell you, or they don't know themselves. anyway, the forbidden city, LARGE, but i think the most impressive part was the quarters for the concubines of the emperor, all three thousand of them, not sure if he was lucky or cursed, depends how you look at it.
warm soup, and coffee, and are looking forward to our 16 hour sleeper train tonight. Loved Beijing, looking forward to whats in store in xian.